Article from The Mississauga Business Times:
Lakeview coup nets 85-acre 'natural' shoreline
By Rich Letkeman
Jim Tovey, Mississauga's Councillor for Ward One, won't say he originated the idea of adding 85 acres to Mississauga's waterfront in "one fell swoop".
But at the "Waterfront Connection" meeting in February, convened as a Public Information session on the new lakefill project and its environmental assessment, Tovey was the main man.
The "swoop" will be a five-year exercise, because that's how long Peel Region will take to generate that much fill from the eight-foot Hanlan Feeder Watermain project. Eighty-five acres of fill to a depth of six feet totals 20-million cubic feet, and that's less than half of what Mississauga and Peel Region will be digging out over the next ten years.
Furthermore, hauling it to the waterfront will save the Region nearly $35-million versus hauling it all the way to Barry, which is one of the few municipalities in southern Ontario that are accepting landfill.
"We have a lot of projects on the go in South Mississauga," he said, "and Lakeview is a part of them. But the lakefill one is very cool. I'ts like the Canadian railroad's First Spike -- the first instance of the City making landform changes in for Inspiration Lakeview. It's the turning of sod."
When the urban waterfront idea was first discussed, ratepayers talked about a landfill buffer on the shoreline where the sewage treatment plant blocked the route to Etobicoke Creek.
When Tovey investigated lakefill ideas last year, he (or someone) thought of building a chain of connected islets between Port Credit and Lakeview with Peel Region's dirt, "but I found that the deep-water sections would bring the cost up to about $150-million," he said.
Too prohibitive. The City would have to build a solid berm offshore and then dig and fill back towards it, but to meet today's environmental stewardship principles, natural habitats that are destroyed on Great Lakes shorelines must be replaced or recreated elsewhere.
The Peel dirt, coming from the 15-kilometre, $460-million feedermain project, is a perfect exploit for Lakeview. Most of it will come from south of Burnhamthorpe Road.
In an agreement between Peel and the City, Peel has launched the required environmental assessment at a cost of $2.5-million, to be carried out by Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) with help from Credit Valley Conservation (CVC).
"We're fast tracking the process," says Tovey. "The federal and provincial Environment ministries love the idea. It's almost pivotal for Lakeview's waterfront at this time."
One bonus, aside from new parkland, will be that two or three wetlands deleted from the landscape by industries over the past hundred years will be recreated along with wildlife habitats. The target area is bigger than either Lakefront Promenade Park or the Texaco/Esso brownfield in Port Credit.
"We'll be filling in this stretch along the east pier, and these five-metre symmetry lines over here," said Tovey, tracing his fingers on watercourse charts. "Imagine a wetland here, another one here, a bog area here, and a meadow over there beside the forested area."
He said it would be Mississauga's first man-made wetland. "We've eliminated 93% of GTA's wetlands from our shorelines and armoured 95% of of them. These actions eliminated spawning areas, eliminated filtering of stormwater on its way downstream, and we reaped dirty water, hence higher tax bills."
Dirt from Peel's digs will begin to be stockpiled on the future Arsenal Park (not on top of possibly polluted OPG soils) as soon as the EA is completed, or around spring of 2014. As fast as it's delivered to Arsenal Park it will be hauled by front-end loaders to the shoreline, where Mississauga Parks & Recreation is expected to perform is world-renowned style of park development.
"And they're looking forward to creating wetlands," he said.
The preliminary configuration of the lakefill areas will be a compromise between what Lakeview residents want and what engineers say they can do. The entire scope of it would result in habitats for birds, wildlife, and particularly fish.
"We're trying to fast-track all phases of this because the first fill is coming soon," said Tovey.
As consultants, Urban Strategies Inc. of Toronto are coordinating the EA protocol. Each load of fill, by law and by due diligence, has to be tested, but all bore samples drilled so far on the feedermain route have come “clean”, according to Tovey.
The Lakeview Master Plan is due for release sometime this spring, and public meetings about the future waterfront are becoming the norm in Lakeview and Port Credit, next-door neighbours on Mississauga's Lake Ontario waterfront.
So are Councillor Tovey's meetings with government officials. On his recent trip to Ottawa he ended up making "barely itinerized” presentations to five ministries. "I love being on a City Council whose higher government authorities are liking pretty much everything we're doing."
Knock on would.
Residents of the two communities are playing active voluntary roles. In an early-March "summit" organized by Town of Port Credit Association and Lakeview Residents, members of both groups (supported by half a dozen others) voted to convene alone, as "non-profit" stakeholders, instead of having to answer largely unanswerable questions from developers.
"Oh well," he said. "I'm sure developers from time to time have meetings with each other without inviting the public."
At the March meeting, one issue that residents focused on was the future configuration for Lakeshore Road as a trafffic corridor. Lakeview resident Prof. John Danahy, a University of Toronto urban planner, was the keynote speaker. He detailed a study by some of his students which concluded that reducing Lakeshore's driving lanes to two plus a turn lane, plus a cycling lane -- might not be a bad thing.
"It's known as 'road diet'," said Danahy. "It can be proved to affect congestion only slightly but increase the people and retail presence by a whole lot."
And just ignore Horatio Hornblower in your rear-view mirror.
In the distant past around, say, two years ago, when Tovey overheard someone saying "Lakeview? That's strictly a Jim Tovey vision," he just let it pass. But now he butts in: "I didn't put it together, the Lakeview residents did."
Tovey is quick to point out the how vibrant the vision is, and the web sites that make it visible: lakeviewresidents; TOPCA; miranet; inspirationlakeview; jimtovey; etc.
Meanwhile, at City Hall, Lorenzo Ruffini is the team leader for Inspiration Lakeview and the coordination and collaboration director, so to speak. He now is intimate with the Mississauga brand of public consultation. "It's amazing to see everyone being on the same page," he said of the lakefill Public Information session.
"What we do now will still be visible a hundred years from now, and we hope it looks good," adds Tovey.
"Apparently we're looking at 35 office and condominium towers being on drafting tables for Mississauga, a lot of them at the city centre, and they're getting bigger and taller. The only other city I know of that got built up so rapidly was Chicago, after the 1871 fire.
"More than 17,000 buildings burned, and the last gutted hole that got redeveloped was in 1909, after which Chicago hosted the World's Fair."
Tovey met former Mayor Richard Dailey in Chicago recently at a convention, and had breakfast with him. "Mr. Daley had heard about Lakeview, and he told me he thought we were doing it right, from his three points of view: promising direct access to the waterfront, insisting on good architecture, and bringing everything down to human scale."
Tovey's first Resolution in Council, on January 2010, was to put Mississauga on the map more often – with about a dozen systematic international design competitions, on specifically pre-selected sites. It passed, and he promises that the Marilyn was just a beginning.
Rome was not built in a day, but Jim Tovey intends to expedite a good part of it within five years.